Preservation of Duong Lam Village urged

A draft on Preservation of Duong Lam Village urgedthe way to preserve and restore the ancient architecture in Ha Noi’s Duong Lam Village was reached at a recent meeting of cultural managers and experts.

The participants decided on Thursday at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism that the hamlets of Mong Phu, Dong Sang, Cam Lam, Doai Giap and Cam Thinh should be preserved.

Temples and pagodas in Mong Phu will be the first to receive restoration work to preserve the old environment. Two-storey buildings will not be permitted, and any existing two-storey structures will either be pulled down, or reduced to one level.

Two-storey tiled houses will be allowed in the other hamlets, providing they are not painted in bright colours, and residents will be encouraged to cultivate gardens.

Experts stressed the need to stick to the traditional colours of the original architecture.

The idea for the project was first raised in 2007, two years after the village was recognised as national heritage site.

The biggest challenge to the project is opposition from local residents. According to architect Le Thanh Vinh, director of the Institute of Relics Preservation, the solutions suggested in the restoration policy may with approval from locals.

“We should think about how to satisfy residents,” he said.

Historian Phan Huy Le, president of the Viet Nam History Science Association, said the law on cultural heritage had to be respected in terms of the restoration of the ancient village, but local authorities should also consider residents’ housing needs. Associate Professor Dang Van Bai said that the restoration of the village had to bring spiritual and material benefits to the inhabitants.

“We should not only think of preserving the heritage but also think of tourism investment which could provide jobs for locals,” he said.

In January, a 12-month VND10 billion (US$500,000) project was carried out to restore ten houses in the ancient village of Duong Lam. Built more than 300 years ago, the dilapidated houses were in desperate need of repair with costs averaging VND1 billion per home. After the restoration is complete, local residents and relevant authorities hope to make them tourist attractions.

In May, 250 locals from Duong Lam signed a petition to ask the Government to remove the village’s title of national relic, due to the problems it has caused.

The village was recognised as a national relic in 2005, and has many houses dating back hundreds of years. However, to villagers, the title has brought more difficulties than benefits.

After its recognition, the local People’s Committee issued a strict regulation on local construction that does not allow houses in the area to be expanded or renovated to more than one storey, in order to retain an original look. This has caused problems for locals as the population has increased. —VNS

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